Did you know that having dark and velvety discoloration or rashes on your neck, groin area, or armpits, a condition called acanthosis nigricans, can indicate that you may have diabetes or cancer? Or that having itchy and extremely dry skin can be a sign of having an underactive thyroid? Your skin is an organ, too, and the largest one at that. If there’s anything wrong internally, chances are high that it will also reflect on the health of your skin.
It is equally true that skin health is affected by the food you eat and the kind of lifestyle you live. Same as with all your body organs, your skin takes its nutrition from your diet. For men, skin care does not have to necessarily mean that you have to lather beauty and skin care products on your face day and night. It can be as simple as eating the right food. Take a look at the healthy skin foods listed below to find out how to adjust your diet to better take care of your skin health.
#1 Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are important for normal skin function. These polyunsaturated fatty acids play a critical role in keeping skin hydrated and they help in the production of the skin’s natural oil barrier.
Of the two essential fatty acids, omega-6 is the one that helps keep the structural integrity of our skin, thus playing a critical role in the skin’s barrier function. On the other hand, omega-3 helps prevent skin aging by protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays and photodamage. Moreover, when you have sufficient levels of omega-3, your skin looks hydrated and young-looking because omega-3 helps with the production of oil for skin hydration.
However, when your omega-3 and omega-6 levels are low, it can lead to dry skin, acne, and flaky or bumpy skin. It can also lead to brittle and dry hair and even dandruff. Both omega-3 and 6 also play an important part in the skin’s inflammatory response. Being deficient in these two essential fatty acids can lead to delayed healing of wounds, susceptibility to inflammatory skin disorders, and sensitive skin.
On the other hand, if your levels of omega-3 and omega-6 are sufficient, you can gain a lot of health benefits including having healthy looking skin. These essential fatty acids can help you fight cardiovascular diseases and many other medical conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help fight against anxiety and depression.
To make sure that you incorporate enough essential fatty acids in your diet, you can snack on pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pistachios. Or you can have salmon for lunch or dinner. Mackerel, sardines, and anchovies also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Or you can simply have eggs and cereals for breakfast as these contain omega-6 fatty acids. Using vegetable oil for cooking will also help as vegetable oils, such as canola oil or flaxseed oil, contain omega-3 and omega-6. Or, you can take fatty acid supplements to ensure you’re getting the right balance of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9.
Did you know that zinc can speed up the process of wound healing? This is one of the reasons why zinc is important for skin health. About twenty percent of our body’s zinc is found in the skin, so if you don’t have enough zinc in your body, it can lead to skin problems.
Zinc also plays an important role in the prevention of skin aging. For instance, when your skin is exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays, zinc helps protect the skin’s fibroblasts and lipids which are essential for making collagen. Zinc also reduces the production of free radicals in your skin.
When you get wounded, zinc plays an important role in protecting your cells from getting infected or inflamed. Moreover, zinc is crucial in the formation of new cells which are necessary to close up the part of your skin where you got wounded. Zinc can also help prevent acne flare-ups because the mineral helps regulate the skin’s inflammatory response.
To make sure you get enough zinc in your diet, you can incorporate chicken, red meat, or beans in your meals. Seafood like crab and oysters also contain a lot of zinc. Whole grains, fortified cereals or dairy products also contain zinc, but make sure you check the label to find out how much zinc these products contain per serving. Taking a zinc or multivitamin and mineral supplement is also one way to ensure you’re getting enough of this important mineral.
The reason why beta-carotene is important for skin health is that it is a precursor of vitamin A. This means that when our body needs it, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A which is necessary for healthy vision, proper immune system functioning, as well as healthy skin.
Vitamin A not only improves your skin’s elasticity, it also enhances your skin tone. This is why you will find many beauty products containing retinol, which is one form of vitamin A. Retinol triggers collagen production and boosts skin renewal which is why retinol is often an ingredient in products that are used to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, as well as to reduce sun damage to the skin.
Any yellow or orange vegetable is sure to have beta-carotene as it is the compound responsible for the yellow or orange coloration of the vegetable. So if you want to boost your skin health, you will benefit from incorporating carrots, sweet potato, spinach, kale or other yellow, orange, and green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Selenium, a mineral naturally found in garlic, is another nutrient that’s important for skin health. It works with vitamin E to protect cell membranes, neutralize free radicals, and prevent wrinkles. As an antioxidant, it has anti-aging properties and it also boosts the skin’s elasticity.
Aside from garlic, you can also get selenium from yellowfin tuna, turkey, beef liver, and chicken. When you eat foods that are rich in selenium, you get a lot of health benefits and not just healthy skin. It will also benefit your cardiovascular health, help improve blood circulation, and fight inflammation.